The University’s premier event, the President’s dinner held in the Waldorf-Astoria, raised over $1.75 million in gross revenue, the most in the event’s history, according to the Office of Media Relations.
The eighth annual dinner, held on Oct. 27, was held not only to help raise funds for the University but to honor members of the University community.
The Spirit of Service Award is given to individuals who “possess the vision, accomplishments and good works that embody the essence of St. Vincent de Paul.” This year’s recipients were Richard DeZego, Thomas and Paula McInerney, and Mary Tobin.
All four recipients were recognized not only for their financial contributions to the University but for the work they have done to better the community as a whole.
“I thank [the trustees] for their leadership and for sharing themselves, their time, and their resources with St. John’s University,” said University President, Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M.
Following the awards presentation, master of ceremonies Mike Francesa, of WFAN sports radio fame, spoke of a contribution he plans on making to the University. Francesa announced the formation of the Francesa Scholarship Fund, created in honor of his mother Marilyn, who passed away in April.
His love of the University also played a great role in his decision to create the scholarship fund.
“[Other schools] deal in theory, we deal in reality,” Francesa said of the University.
He also spoke of the importance of giving students a chance to receive a good education, one which St. John’s can provide. He made reference to the President’s Society as a show of what is possible with an education from St. John’s.
“Look over at these guys who are all honor students,” Francesa said. “If they’re not the future and they don’t make you proud, I don’t know what will.”
Francesa is committed to funding the effort in order to benefit St. John’s students in need and said he will fund the scholarship for the remainder of his life.
Another important part of the evening was President Harrington’s address. He spoke of the state of the University as well as the success of the ongoing capital campaign.
“Many times as president of St. John’s, I am asked how the University is doing,” Harrington said. “Quite honestly, a simple “we’re fine” [is not enough].”
According to Harrington, the University is doing very well. Approximately 20,346 students are currently enrolled, the highest total in the school’s history. There was also a record of 20,600 applications for freshman admission, making St. John’s one of the most in-demand schools in New York State, third only to New York University and Cornell University.
“These students are the strongest, academically, in our history,” Harrington said of the incoming freshman class. “We are attracting many of the best and the brightest to our university.”
Not only is the University growing in popularity amongst prospective students, but the school has also managed to collect donations of approximately $247 million dollars as part of a Capital Campaign program.
“Everyone has something to give,” Harrington said. “St. Vincent de Paul told us no one is too rich to receive or too poor to give.”
Harrington continued, asking those present to not take the extravagant celebration as a sign of lack of need. Although much has been done, there is still more that can be done to aid the University and it’s students.
“Do not let this grand ballroom in an ivory tower in the middle of this city of greatness be an end in and of itself,” Harrington said. “Rather, let us go forth and share.”